July 12, 2012
Building the Television Archive
Alfred Hitchcock Presents -- “The Cheney Vase” (season 1 episode 13) (originally aired 25 December 1955)
Written by Robert Blees
Directed by Robert Stevens
Hosted by Alfred Hitchcock
Guest Starring Patricia Collinge (Martha Cheney), Darren McGavin (Lyle Endicott), Carolyn Jones (Pamela Waring), George Macready (Herbert Koether), Kathryn Card (Bella), and Ruta Lee (Ruby Boyenton)
The thrilling anthology series ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (1955-1962) featured anecdotes of drama and suspense, contained within 25 minute segments and running for seven seasons, expanding later into The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-1965) (featuring longer programs of 50 minutes) and later The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985-1989) (a revision and re-imagining of the classic series). While Hitchcock, previously a film mastermind, was involved in production and hosted the program, opening the episodes with an often dry joviality, he did not actually direct a majority of the episodes. Nonetheless, elements like the title sequence featuring his caricature and the stories containing his unique sense of mystery, blending at times even humour and irony – with a twist, of course – remained some of the more distinctive aspects of the show. The show received consistently high ratings and experienced success during its runs, syndication, and beyond.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents was filmed at Revue Studios in Hollywood and produced by Hitchcock’s television company, Shamley Productions (named after the England location where his summer cottage was located). Revue was founded by MCA (a talent agency) in 1943, and came to produce a range of programs including sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver, Westerns, and crime dramas, utilizing the acquired Universal Studios lot and eventually being renamed to Universal Television under affiliation with NBC. Shamley Productions produced 372 teleplays over the course of ten years.
CBS Sundays 9:30-10:00 PM (2 Oct 1955 – 25 September 1960)
NBS Tuesdays 8:30-9:00 PM (27 September 1960 – 26 June 1962)
In “The Cheney Vase,” a scheming man, Lyle Endicott, freshly fired from his curator position, attempts to deceitfully procure a valuable family heirloom from the elderly Martha Cheney. He uses deceitful tactics, including purposefully caring after and confusing Mrs. Cheney, replacing her old maid with a new conspiring one, and misleading his own lady friend, all for the sake of his own ruthless goal. After much searching and scheming he finally locates the pricey vase, and is about to flee away with it, when he is confronted by an instance of the tables having greatly turned.